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Authors: Margaret Ryan

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BOOK: The Mystery of Miss King
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“Hello, Jonny,” he smiled. “I'm glad I met you. Will you ask Mr Maini to cancel my paper till I get back from Egypt. I forgot.”

“Of course,” I nodded. “Have a good trip.”

“I'll send you a postcard,” he said, and got into the taxi. It was only when it had disappeared down the hill that I wished I'd asked Dr Sphinx if he knew anything about Miss King.

I carried on with my round, but when I got to number 57 and tried to put the magazine through the snappy letter box, it wouldn't fit.

“Oh no,” I said. “Not again!” There was nothing for it. I'd have to knock on the door.

I banged the knocker.

No reply.

I thought about taking the magazine back to the shop, but then I'd
still
have to deliver it tomorrow.

Then I had another thought. Perhaps I could leave it on the window ledge, weighed down by the Viking gods.

I went over to the compost heap. “Excuse me,” I said, picking them up, “but I need you to guard something else today.”

I put the magazine on the ledge and sat the stone gods on top. “You can look in the window, if you like,” I said, and turned them round.

I wish I hadn't, for there, grinning at us from the top of the TV, was a human skull…

“Aaaargh!” I yelled and bolted down the path. It was getting to be quite a habit. I suppose I must have finished the rest of my round, but I don't really remember. I just know that when I got back to Mr Maini's my bag was empty.

“What's wrong, Jonny?” said Mr Maini. “You look upset.”

“It's nothing,” I said, backing out of the shop. “Just got some things on my mind.”

I must be sensible, I must be sensible, I kept repeating. Dad's sure to be right.
There are no missing persons from around here. The skull's probably a theatrical prop or maybe a plastic one from a joke shop. The trouble was, it didn't look plastic. It looked only too real. Those staring eyes. Those tombstone teeth…

“But you can't tell anyone about it,” I said out loud, as I pedalled to school. “Or they'll really think you're nuts. Just try to do as Dad says and concentrate on Saturday's game.”

Chapter Five

So I did. I tried to put it all out of my mind and for the next couple of days luckily there were no more magazines to deliver. I just stuck Miss King's paper through her letter box and hurried away as fast as I could.

Finally, Saturday arrived and the long-awaited inter-schools' football final. I was really nervous; so were the rest of the team. Only Mr McGregor was calm.

“Just do your best, lads,” he told us in the dressing room. “Remember all I've taught you and you'll be fine. And, Smith, you keep your eye on the ball. Don't let your mind wander.”

“OK,” I said. If only he knew!

We started off well, with Peter Ho scoring the first goal. Our supporters, which included Captain Cross-eyed and Mr Tipp, cheered, but then the other team scored, and their supporters cheered. That happened again and it was 2–2. I knew Mum and Dad and Ellie, my little sister, were on the touchline, but I was determined to stay focussed, and I tried not to look at them.

At last, the referee blew his whistle for half-time and we trooped back to the dressing room.

Mr McGregor spoke. “You're doing fine, lads,” he said. “But we need that extra push. Dig deep and give it all you've got.”

We nodded and ran back out onto the field, determined to play our socks off. And we did. But the other team were good. Very good. We were getting tired and struggling to hold on.

The referee looked at his watch and I heard Mr McGregor yell, “Come on, lads, just one minute to go!”

Then it happened. I'm not sure how, but suddenly the ball was at my feet and I had a clear sight of the goal. I let fly and really connected with the ball. It soared into the air, over the heads of the other players and hit the side of the post. I held my breath. The ball bounced in.

All our supporters yelled and jumped into the air. Mr Tipp jumped higher than everyone else, so I guess he must have been wearing his bouncing wellies, and Captain Cross-eyed tossed up his pirate hat. My dad couldn't jump with his broken leg, so he waved his crutch instead.

The final whistle blew. All our hours of practice had paid off. We had won the inter-schools' football championship! I could hardly believe it. Neither could Mr McGregor. He couldn't stop grinning. “Well done, lads,” he kept saying. “Well done. I knew you could do it.”

Mrs Bone from the council presented each of us with a medal, then we did a lap of honour with the cup. It felt great, and somehow we weren't tired any more. After that, Mr McGregor took the whole team out for a pizza to celebrate. I had mine with extra pepperoni and cheese, then washed it down with lots of Coke.

When I got home, Mum gave me a big hug and Dad congratulated me and showed me the pictures he'd taken of the game.

“Great goal, Jonny,” he smiled. “You saw your chance and took it. You've got a really useful right foot there. Keep practising with it.” And he ruffled my hair.

I could tell he was pleased.

Chapter Six

I got up extra early on Monday morning. Mr McGregor had promised we could take the cup round the school to show it off, and I didn't want to miss any of that.

BOOK: The Mystery of Miss King
6.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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